Shakespeare’s Secret (2005), by Elise Broach

Yet another knock off—this time from Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3.  The heroine, Hero, and her sister, Beatrice, are named after the women in Much Ado About Nothing, as their father is a Shakespeare scholar.  The mystery to be solved involves a lost diamond, and the literary history connected with it is the question of whether someone other than William Shakespeare wrote the plays. Elizabethan and pre-Elizabethan British history is thus a learning component of the story, but while the history seems sound, the reader is left possibly believing the critical opinion that Edward de Vere did write the plays… there is not enough hard evidence surrounding this question for the reader to form a solid opinion—which isn’t surprising as the evidence is rather thin and has been exploited to fill up the missing plot elements in this portion of the story.  The result is misleading at best, and nowhere near the quality of Balliett’s integration of history, art, architecture, math, science, and the notion of coincidence.


4 comments on “Shakespeare’s Secret (2005), by Elise Broach

  1. It is a history that fascinates me. I think I will check out Asquith’s book… My own knowledge is mostly from being raised Canadian Catholic in the 1960s and 70s, which is far less dependable a source than I would like! Thank you for reintroducing me to the topic.

  2. It wasn’t Edward de Vere, it was the Master of the Ceremonies, Sir Lewes Lewkenor:-

    • The debate continues… interesting article, and I have to admit that Shakespearean studies are not my specialty in any way… So I must leave this to the experts. I do admit a very lay-person doubt that any one man could have produced all of the writing attributed to Shakespeare: genius aside… the blog is correct in pointing out the disparate content and styles.

      Only one quibble with the blog: If, as is stated, “it is impossible for someone writing at the turn of the 17th century to incorporate these mystical occult themes into their plays unless they were an initiated Freemason of some degree as the knowledge was just not available outside of the order,” how then can the “real author” (my emphasis) then also “be a committed Catholic”? Were not the two at odds in Elizabethan England? The Freemasons, if I understand correctly, were during the late 1500s persecuted by the Catholic Church in other realms, and somewhat protected by the Protestant Elizabeth in England… but that suggests the man calling himself Shakespeare could not have been both…

      • Freemasonry is diverse, Catholic Lords in the north kept close ties with the Scottish nobility, which explains the importance of Scotland in the history of British Freemasonry. Many people, including Lewes Lewkenor, went along with the new religion while still clinging onto Catholicism because they feared for their souls. This is the hidden Catholic message which the plays are discussing in a coded language. I would recommend Claire Asquith’s book Shadowplay which illuminates this subject comprehensively for the first time.

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